The collection of books that devoured my life


I have a large library by most normal standards. Apparently, I have arranged my life to acquire as many books as possible. I worked for three years right out of university in a large second-hand bookstore – where I was, all alone, the paperback department – then for a literary magazine where I looted the mailbag daily. Over the decades, I have spent much of my free time in bookstores, flea markets, charity bazaars, and estate sales. I review books and have sometimes been a judge for literary awards, and from time to time books have been speculatively sent to me by publishers and sometimes authors. And I am bilingual; when I travel to a French speaking country, I literally need an extra suitcase for the books I bring back. In the meantime, I have often moved; only once have I lived in one place for 10 years (and it was possibly the most disgusting of all my residences). I lived in New York during that bygone era where as soon as you got a raise of $ 20 you moved into a slightly bigger apartment. My older friends are probably still suffering from joint pain after helping carry my 100 boxes on six flights several times.

But after living in small apartments for decades, I just spent seven years in a house with a full-size attic, and it all went to hell. The books entered my house under cover of night, the four winds, smuggled in by creatures of the woods, and then they never left. Books collected on all surfaces; I believe that somehow they managed to reproduce. Now that I’ve moved again – to a house that isn’t necessarily smaller but determined to avoid being suffocated by books like kudzu – I have just disposed of 30 boxes of a value: books that I don’t read and that I don’t read. need, duplicates, unnecessary memories.


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